From International Socialist Review, Vol.21 No.1, Winter 1960, p.2.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
If you hear the sound of happy chuckling these days it is possible that you are within earshot of our editorial office as we thumb through a batch of new subscriptions. Nothing is quite so pleasing to the staff of a socialist publication as the knowledge that they are finding a new audience.
To each of the 315 who have newly subscribed to the International Socialist Review since our last issue: Greetings and welcome!
The major share of the credit for this increase in our readership belongs to Dan Freeman and Jim Robertson, the “Socialist Trailblazers.” These two young men toured a few of the eastern university campuses selling subscriptions to the ISR and two socialist newspapers, the Militant and the Young Socialist.
In a communique from the field the Trailblazers wrote, “As a result of the tour, the ISR is on its way to becoming the recognized Marxist magazine on the campuses visited.”
Our thanks to Jim and Dan for proving with their experiment on a few campuses what the real possibilities are. Is it too much to hope that other readers and supporters will be inspired to reproduce the results made by the Trailblazers on hundreds of campuses across the entire country?
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Perhaps it is only fair, right from the start, to warn new readers that the ISR is radically different from any other magazine one is apt to pick up on the newstand.
For us there are no sacred cows in this world of ours. We reject the credo of the “stultified fifties” that to freely inquire is a kind of subversion. On the contrary we insist that all institutions, movements, parties and theories are fair game for scientific analysis.
We state frankly, and indeed proudly, that we base ourselves on the accumulated body of knowledge and method of social analysis known as Marxism. We consider ourselves the modern exponents of the theoretical approach put forward by Marx and Engels and further developed by Lenin and Trotsky. Through the writings of these men and others in the Marxist movement we have available a remarkable distillation of the experience of the international labor movement for over a century.
We attempt to use that experience as a guide to our own analyses and, by so doing, add to the knowledge that the socialist movement so vitally needs.
We promise you controversy with no holds barred; and something even rarer, a pronounced lack of deference to all the powers that be. Nothing less than that will do for a movement that aims at the construction of a truly humane and rational society.
At any rate, that’s our point of view and we’re confident enough of it to take on all comers. And because we like everything open and above board we’ve made this little introduction of ourselves to our new readers.
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In this issue we take note of two important centennials: John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry and the birth of John Dewey. As different as these two men were, they both remind us of the vigorous radicalism which is very much a part of the indigenous American tradition. They also typified what was viable and bold in the middle class movements of their time before the advent of the organized labor movement.
We are interested in these men in part because their dreams could not be realized by the movements they sponsored. It becomes incumbent on the modern socialist movement, we feel, to take up the jobs they started.
In fact, the connection between the populist radicalism of the eighteen hundreds and the socialist movement arising at the turn of the century is one of the themes of James P. Cannon’s speech, published in this issue, American Radicalism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
For those whose interest is aroused by Joseph Hansen’s thoughtful review of Isaac Deutscher’s Prophet Unarmed we recommend the January 1960 issue of the Young Socialist which carries an exclusive interview with Deutscher. The historian gave the interview during his recent stay at Harvard University where he completed his investigations in the Trotsky Archives in preparation for his final volume of the Trotsky biography, The Prophet Outcast. The interview gives some important insights into how Deutscher will handle this third volume. You can get your copy by sending a dime to: The Young Socialist, P.O. Box 471, Cooper Station, N.Y.C., 3. Better yet, subscribe. It’s only fifty cents for six months, a dollar for a year.
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The mailman not only brought us the new subscriptions but some very much appreciated comments and suggestions from our old readers.
C.R. Hedlund writes, “The article on Alienation is one of the most informative that I have ever read.” We are glad to see that our high opinion of William Warde’s Alienation in the Fall 1959 issue was shared by many readers. For those that missed it and can’t get a copy locally, just send thirty-five cents to our business office.
Jack B., from St. Paul, suggests that we carry ads in subsequent issues on such important articles as Alienation. Jack writes,
*“For some time now I have been wanting to write you some suggestions for the International Socialist Review, but because I have been working a fifty-eight hour work-week I have had neither the time nor the mental energy to do it. I have a few extra hours today so I am hastily writing this letter ... The following articles, I am convinced, would be very good: Science and Socialism ... Must We Sacrifice to Compete with the USSR ... The Cuban Revolution ... Historical Materialism and Stalinism ... Norman Thomas and Socialism.”
These are excellent suggestions and certainly will be considered as we map out the coming issues. One big problem we have is that we are cramped within the confines of thirty-two pages. This means that much fine material gets squeezed out as happened with this issue.
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The future holds some exciting prospects for ISR readers. William Warde just wrote us, “I have been completing a comprehensive piece on the odd but relevant topic of ‘Philosophy and the American Labor Movement.’ It starts with the fact that official labor and academic philosophy have nothing whatever to do with one another and are both content with this estrangement. I then pose the question: is this a permanent feature of our culture? ... I had in mind striking sparks in the minds of alert students interested in both the prospects of American Labor and the problems of American philosophy and their perspectives in their lifetime.”
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New readers mean more to us than just an enlarged audience. It means, we hope, two-way communication. We are eager to hear how you react to ISR, what your own views are on the topics we discuss, what criticisms and suggestions you may have. Why not make a habit of sending us a note after reading your issue?
Potentially an enlarged readership means the growth of our Marxist quarterly in many ways, among them the development of a new group of Marxist writers and research workers. The American Marxist movement is certainly in need of new blood, fresh and vigorous fighters and writers for socialism.
In this connection, while we are of course proud of the veteran Marxist contributors to this issue: James P. Cannon, William F. Warde and Joseph Hansen, we are equally proud and encouraged by the newer and younger writers that appear in these pages: Shane Mage, Arthur Jordan, Tim Wohlforth and others.
Last updated on: 5 May 2009